David (George Clooney) and Georgia (Julia Roberts) hate each other. They were married once, a long time ago. The only good thing their short-lived union produced was daughter Lily (Kaitlyn Dever). Ticket to Paradise is about what happens when they're forced to spend time together. Romantic comedies about bickering couples who maybe, just maybe, have feelings for one another are a dime a dozen. Thanks to impeccable casting, this movie manages to be fun anyway. Following a successful theatrical run, it comes to Blu-ray on December 13.
The gist of the story is pretty simple. After graduating law school, Lily and best friend Wren (Billie Lourd) take a vacation to Bali. There, she falls for Gede (Maxime Bouttier), a local who farms seaweed for a living. David and Georgia arrive for the wedding and immediately agree on a single thing: they think Lily is too young to get married, and they don't want her to make the same mistake they made. The feuding couple schemes to sabotage the wedding, lobbing insults and barbs at each other the entire time.
If you guessed that the ice between them starts to thaw after joining forces to break up their daughter and her fiancée, you're 100% correct. Georgia, however, has an airline pilot boyfriend who wants to marry her, leaving her with many conflicted feelings to deal with. And Lily is smart enough to know her parents don't condone her marriage plans, which adds more tension to the situation. The family is in a beautiful, idyllic location, yet unable to enjoy much because everyone is at comedic odds with everyone else.
Ticket to Paradise is totally predictable, and it feels as though it should have come out in the late 1980s or early-to-mid 1990s. That's exactly what I liked about it. Director/co-writer Ol Parker (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again) is intentionally rocking it old-school here. Sticking to a familiar template is a deliberate choice designed to give audiences the kind of rom-com experience we don't get a lot anymore. In that regard, it's a nice echo of the genre's heyday. The return to a well-worn formula is part of the appeal, serving as the cinematic equivalent of comfort food.
The movie works thanks to the awesome chemistry between Clooney and Roberts. They're genuinely funny trading zingers and engaging in wacky comedy, as when David and Georgia get drunk in a club and begin dancing like fools, to Lily's horror. Because the stars are friends in real life, we can sense a little respect between their feuding characters, thereby making it easy to believe it when they eventually warm up again. When you get right down to it, the whole picture exists to trade on their chemistry. Seeing them together is the best part, and we get it virtually nonstop. A charming supporting turn from Kaitlyn Dever and breathtaking physical locations add to the entertainment value.
If you want something original or unpredictable, Ticket to Paradise will leave you frustrated. This is an unabashedly formulaic movie that aims to give you precisely what you expect. Get on that wavelength and the Clooney/Roberts magic provides a fun time.
Ticket to Paradise comes with an assortment of supplementary material, including a digital copy of the film and the original theatrical trailer. The rest of the goodies are as follows:
Return of the Dynamic Duo -This 4-minute segment focuses on the onscreen reunion between George Clooney and Julia Roberts. Parker acknowledges writing the film specifically for them, while also encouraging them to improvise on-set to take advantage of the playful friendliness they've had for years.
Destination Wedding - The importance of being authentic to Balinese culture is examined here. From the locations, to the set dressing, to the onscreen portrayal of wedding rituals, the filmmakers explain their dedication to being as realistic as possible.
Production in Paradise - Despite taking place in Bali, Ticket to Paradise was actually filmed in Australia. This section looks at how that was accomplished, including the challenge of shooting on an island that had no electricity.
Keep a Straight Face - Clooney and Roberts aren't the only real-life friends in the movie. This 2-minute segment finds pals and Booksmart co-stars Dever and Lourd talking about the fun of working together again, plus the difficulty of not cracking up on the set.
The bonus materials only add up to about 20 minutes, but still provide an amusing look behind the scenes. Picture and sound quality on the Blu-ray are tops. Click here to purchase Ticket to Paradise from Amazon.
out of four
Ticket to Paradise is rated PG-13 for some strong language and brief suggestive material. The running time is 1 hour and 44 minutes.